MicroLED patents nearly double in a year in South Korea

MicroLED patents filed in the country, which were close to nil near the end of the last decade, have gone from 67 in 2016 to 120 in 2017.

Patents filed for MicroLED, a technology widely considered for next-generation displays, doubled in South Korea in 2017.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), 120 patents in the technology were filed in 2017 compared to 67 in 2016. In 2015, 62 were filed; in 2014 this number was 36 and in 2008, only four were filed.

For the past 10 years, from 2008 to 2017, a total of 358 were filed. Local conglomerates filed 119, accounting for 33.2 percent, while foreign companies filed 116, making up 32.4 percent.

MicroLED technology places together micrometer-sized LED chips to form a display. Each chip acts as a pixel, allowing for a high-quality picture. It doesn't require a backlight, much like OLED, allowing it to be shaped into diverse form factors, but uses inorganic material so it lasts longer.

Apple is rumoured to be working on MicroLED to use for Apple Watches.

At this year's CES, Samsung showed off a modular TV, dubbed The Wall, that uses the technology. It is yet to be commercialised, although the South Korean tech giant said it will launch the MicroLED TV sometime this year.

KIPO said unlike OLED, in which Korean firms Samsung and LG were overwhelmingly leading, MicroLED competition was more a level playing field and local firms need to actively invest in the technology.

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